Full transcript: "Face the Nation" on September 23, 2018

Last Updated Sep 23, 2018 10:46 AM EDT

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JOHN DICKERSON: It's Sunday, September 23rd. I am John Dickerson and this is FACE THE NATION.

CROWD (in unison): We believe Christine Ford.

JOHN DICKERSON: Explosive allegations of a sexual assault dating back decades have put a roadblock in Brett Kavanaugh's path to the Supreme Court. And there is breaking news overnight as it appears Kavanaugh's accuser, Christine Blasey Ford, has tentatively agreed to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday.

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: Why didn't somebody call the FBI thirty-six years ago? I mean you could also say when did this all happen? What's going on? To take a man like this and besmirch, now with that being said let her have her say and let's see how it all works out.

JOHN DICKERSON: But the President's not the only one asking those questions. We'll hear from Nevada voters about how big a deal this is outside the political arena. We'll talk with South Carolina Republican Trey Gowdy and the person Ford first took her story to, California Democrat Anna Eshoo.

Then as world leaders prepare for the annual United Nations meeting in New York, we'll talk with U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley.

Plus, we'll have a preview of my interview with British Prime Minister Theresa May--a key disagreement between the U.S. and Great Britain could take center stage at that U.N. meeting.

But by your assessment Iran is keeping up its end of the bargain.

THERESA MAY: We-- from what we see we believe that it is doing that.

JOHN DICKERSON: Finally, our CBS News Battleground Tracker shows momentum in the race for control of the House. We'll tell you which parties got it.

And we'll have political analysis on all the news coming up on FACE THE NATION.

Good morning and welcome to FACE THE NATION. We begin with the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, who is in New York this morning. Good morning, Madam Ambassador. I want to start with a topic that is not on your to-do list next week but I want to get your thoughts. Brett Kavanaugh, the President's nominee, has been accused by Christine Blasey Ford who has now decided to come and speak to the Senate Judiciary Committee. When you and I spoke last on this show, you spoke about accusers in that you were proud that they had come forward and they should be listened to. But you also have been a politician in public life and you know what it's like to get accused of something that isn't so. Knowing those two things help-- help us sort through how this should be discussed in a public forum.

NIKKI HALEY (U.N. Ambassador/@nikkihaley): Well, good morning, John. First of all, I think it's very important that accuser-- that accusers are heard and that their story is heard. But I also think the accused needs to be heard. This is a situation where the Senate really needs to lead on this in the way that they are responsible, in a way that they are conscious of hearing both stories, and they do it quickly for the sake of both families and they take the politics out of it. We see way too much politics in this. And I think at the end of the day the goal is the truth. And you do that in a way that's not with a lot of fanfare. You do it in a way that's with a lot of respect. And I think that's what everybody-- and-- and I think that's what the American public wants to see.

JOHN DICKERSON: All right. Ambassador Haley, now onto the business of next week on the question of Iran I spoke with the British prime minister on Friday who said the deal is working, that the U.S. has removed itself from, and that the U.K. and the rest of the signatories are going to still do business with Iran. Does that mean they will face sanctions from the United States?

NIKKI HALEY: Well I-- you know, they have a decision to make. Our decision was that, you know, hundreds of billions of dollars was going into Iran and in return they were having ballistic missile testing. They were selling arms to terrorist fighters. They were basically continuing to support terrorism and what we said was we're not going to give you money to continue to do those bad things. The Europeans have a decision to make. And I think that decision is already being made. If you look, they are dropping business from Iran left and right. Iran's economy is plummeting and it's because they can't continue to sustain this. So, yes, we will have decisions to make in terms of whether they get exemptions or not but I'll tell you right now we're going to be really tough on Iran. We're not giving them a pass.

JOHN DICKERSON: Because let's be very clear though about the decision, because the U.K. is still telling its businesses to do business with Iran. President Trump said at the time, "Anyone doing business with Iran will not be doing business with the United States." Is that still the case and would it be the case for the U.K.?

NIKKI HALEY: That-- that is still the case. And that's the conversation for Prime Minister May and President Trump to have. But that's still very much the case. We're not going to give exemptions to Iran. We're not going to give them any-- allow them any money to continue to build their nuclear weapons and so we're going to continue to stay tough on this.

JOHN DICKERSON: All right. Let's move on to the question of Syria. The President threatened Russia, Syria, and Iran recently. With respect to the province of Idlib, the President said the consequences would be dire. You also-- you-- you-- you also said the consequences would be dire so they've reached a de-escalation plan. Is that then a victory for the President's position?

NIKKI HALEY: Well, I think it's a move in the right direction. I don't think it's a victory until we see it's actually followed through with. We-- our goal was to make sure that, first of all, no chemical weapons were used in Idlib, but also that no military action was used in Idlib. You know, they are talking about terrorists. There's about fifteen thousand terrorists. Well, there's three million civilians there. And so the responsibility and the caution has to be used on any offense in Idlib is one that the United States take-- takes very seriously. I think the fact that Erdogan and Putin came together; they decided on a cease-fire. We have to see if that follows through. We'll know October 15th, and I think the world is watching.

JOHN DICKERSON: You said in 2017 regime change is something we think is going to happen in Syria. It seems that in the seven years of the civil war, Assad the leader of Syria, has only consolidated his power. So is it time to just accept that he's going to stay in power for quite a long time?

NIKKI HALEY: It's hard to imagine a Syria with Assad in power. I think he's going to stay in power for now. The U.S. certainly isn't in any way trying to force him out. But we don't think he's going to stay. There's no way that the Syrian people are going to allow it. There's no way that the Iranians, the Russians, anybody else think that having him there is a good thing and so I think it's a matter of time before he's gone.

JOHN DICKERSON: Switch to North Korea. The South Korean leader reports that the North Koreans would allow inspectors but only if the U.S. takes reciprocal measures. So what is the U.S. willing to offer for inspectors?

NIKKI HALEY: Well, I think it depends on inspectors for what. You know inspectors for certain sites or inspectors for all sites. And so I think what President Trump has said is we're not going to do any half measures. We have to make sure that we're thorough in this. There are multiple sites in North Korea and we need to have inspectors in all multiple sites if that's going to happen. This is really a conversation about what denuclearization is. What the United States is looking for is denuclearization with complete verification that they are actually stopping their nuclear program. And so that's a longer conversation. What I can say is we've had a win and that we're not having any more ballistic missile testing. We're trying to focus on the nuclear development to get that to stop as well. I think the idea that the Korean leaders are speaking to each other is a win because we want that region to be at peace. And so this is all baby steps. But I think it's baby steps moving in the right direction.

JOHN DICKERSON: You said complete verification is still something to be discussed. After the deal was signed, when Secretary of State Pompeo was asked about complete verification he was irritated the question was asked because he said it was implicit in the agreement, but it doesn't seem to be locked down at all and this is still very much-- the crucial question of verification is still very much an open question. There were a lot more work to be done.

NIKKI HALEY: Well, I think we all knew this wasn't going to happen overnight. But, John, no one can say this hasn't been a win so far. I mean, literally, in 2017 it felt like every other weekend we were seeing missile testing. The fact that that stopped, the fact that President Trump and-- and Kim have had a conversation and are going to be meeting again, the fact that we now have them to where their first major parade they weren't displaying nukes. That was the first time in a long time. So these are all great steps. The fact that the two Korean leaders met, and were able to shake hands and talk about peace this is all progress.

JOHN DICKERSON: So--

NIKKI HALEY: But, yes, we do have to talk about verification. We do have to talk about what denuclearization means and those are all more conversations that have to take place.

JOHN DICKERSON: Very--

NIKKI HALEY: But I think that, you know, the goal on this is that will only happen if we continue to enforce sanctions.

JOHN DICKERSON: Very quickly, one last question: the Russians said the U.S. was playing with fire with its sanctions on China for doing business with Russia. Playing with fire?

NIKKI HALEY: No, we're being fair. China has had their way with trade for-- with the United States for a long time. Now, we're just making sure that we're playing back. We're not going to be taken advantage of. President Trump has a great relationship with President Xi, but he is not going to do it at the expense of the American people.

JOHN DICKERSON: All right. Ambassador Nikki Haley, thanks so much for being with us.

NIKKI HALEY: Thanks, John.

JOHN DICKERSON: We turn now to South Carolina Republican Congressman Trey Gowdy. He is the chairman of the House Oversight Committee. And he joins us this morning from Greenville, South Carolina. Good morning, Congressman.

REPRESENTATIVE TREY GOWDY (R-South Carolina/ Oversight Committee Chairman/@TGowdySC): Good morning, John.

JOHN DICKERSON: This hearing that's going to happen this week in the Senate Judiciary Committee. You've-- you've chaired some pretty high-profile, politically-charged hearings. What are the risks involved?

REPRESENTATIVE TREY GOWDY: There's a risk to either side, that's not perceived as being fair. I-- I've never-- I've been in lots of sex assault cases, but not since I've been in Congress. You have got to be fair to the witness. You have got to give the witness an opportunity to fully answer the question. You need to eschew these five-minute increments that we so often use in Congress. Five minutes is not long enough for anyone to appropriately question either Doctor Ford or Judge Kavanaugh. I am confident the judge-- that Senator Grassley, Chairman Grassley will run this in a respectful way but the American people regardless of whether you're a Republican or a Democrat expect these witnesses to be treated fairly and I am confident that they will be.

JOHN DICKERSON: One of the questions that Christine Blasey Ford has said is that she would have liked the FBI to do a kind of neutral fact finding on this. What do you think about that?

REPRESENTATIVE TREY GOWDY: I'm a big fan of the FBI, John, but they don't investigate sex assault cases. There are very, very few federal sex assault cases. So, my first question would be the FBI to investigate what--there's no crime scene to process, there are no forensics to evaluate. What the FBI could do is go interview Doctor Ford and interview Judge Kavanaugh. But they've already interviewed Judge Kavanaugh. And even if they did interview Doctor Ford, she still has to testify. So, the only role I can see the bureau playing is identifying other witnesses that may have knowledge. Some of that's already been done by Doctor Ford. Judge Kavanaugh's defense is he wasn't there so you wouldn't expect him to produce witnesses. But I-- I don't know what people expect the FBI to do. They're not human polygraphs so--

JOHN DICKERSON: Right. Well--

REPRESENTATIVE TREY GOWDY: --they can't tell us who's telling the truth.

JOHN DICKERSON: But my understanding, though, is that the President in these nomination-- nominations the President can ask the FBI to do it. So while they may not investigate sexual assault he could in-- in terms of getting an accurate record. I guess the thinking is the FBI is a neutral fact finder here and we don't know what we-- we don't know and so they without all the partisanship and-- and the charged nature of partisanship could get some of the basic facts down which would-- it's not just about finding information for the general record it's informing also the questions that the senators may then ask of both of them.

REPRESENTATIVE TREY GOWDY: The FBI I know has already interviewed Judge Kavanaugh. I-- I have no issues with the FBI taking a second, third, eighth look if that's what it takes to find out what happened and to fully air all the facts. I just want people to have realistic expectations mean--what the FBI can do is go interview Doctor Ford which is what the Senators are planning on doing this week. They can interview Judge Kavanaugh which is what the senators are doing but they can't then come in and-- and repeat back what either of those witnesses say. You can't determine credibility unless you actually hear from the witness herself and himself.

JOHN DICKERSON: Let me ask you about what standard one should use in trying to sort through all of these facts. This is not a court of law. What's your feeling about the standard that should be used to determine who's telling what the truth of this is?

REPRESENTATIVE TREY GOWDY: That's a great question, John, and I have struggled with that question. My bias is toward sex assault victims. I spent twenty years believing them sometimes when nobody else did. I am used to the beyond a reasonable doubt. That is an incredibly high burden, but it ought to be if you're going to take away someone's freedom. It also ought to be a high burden when you are going to impact someone's reputation. And-- and make no mistake both Doctor Ford and Judge Kavanaugh will live with consequences of this for the remainder of their lives. But-- but as it relates to Judge Kavanaugh, when you have been accused of something that is a crime it's an incredibly serious crime. It is a crime that goes to the heart of your character. I think American people expect there to be a high evidentiary burden, and I am really disappointed when I hear senators say they either believe or don't believe witnesses that they have never interviewed or heard from. How can you do that, John? How can you make a credibility assessment if you've never bothered to interview either of the two principals?

JOHN DICKERSON: Let me move on and ask you about the reporting this week about Rod Rosenstein, the deputy attorney general some back and forth about a New York Times report that he suggested wearing a wire with the President. His response or the-- the defendants or defenders of his have said this was just a joke. What do you make of all that?

REPRESENTATIVE TREY GOWDY: It's not a very funny joke. But what I would say is the same thing you and I just got done talking about. Rod deserves the right to be heard. And I'm sure at some point the President will bring Rod in and say, "Rod if you think I am incompetent, if you feel the need to wear a wire when you're talking to me, then why are you serving in my administration?" And it may be that Rod says, "Mister President none of that happened." We won't know that until we see the McCabe memos which if you really want to see him don't run for Congress, go be a reporter because they've seen them and we have not looked at the McCabe memos, find out who else if anyone was in the room and then give Rod a chance to explain whether or not it's true and the context in which it was said. But-- but one thing it's clear whether you're a Republican or a Democrat President, you have a right to a deputy attorney general that doesn't think you're incompetent and doesn't feel the need to audio tape conversations with you.

JOHN DICKERSON: Andrew McCabe being the former deputy director of the FBI, the-- what do you-- what do you make of the President's comment about his attorney general. When asked in an interview he said, "I don't have an attorney general." What-- what do you make of just the general relationship between the President and the-- and the Department of Justice?

REPRESENTATIVE TREY GOWDY: It's terrible and it's heartbreaking. And I understand the President's frustration. The frustration is that he picked-- out of all the universe of attorneys he could have picked-- he picked one that had to recuse himself from that office's most significant investigation. But he did pick him, and I-- I would-- I would prefer that they keep their differences private. There's nothing to keep the President from bringing Jeff Sessions over and having a stern conversation about priorities or policies. But the public fighting to me-- this is a different office, John. It's not the Department of Agriculture or Commerce. It's a blindfolded woman holding a set of scales that each of us has to have confidence in. And-- and it's-- it's sad to watch quite frankly.

JOHN DICKERSON: Speaking of that confidence, just in twenty seconds here, what do you think about the President declassifying this-- this information from the-- the FISA warrant about an investigation into his own behavior?

REPRESENTATIVE TREY GOWDY: Well, I've read every bit of that information and-- and 99.9 percent of it has nothing to do with him. In fact a hundred percent of it may have nothing to do with him. I-- I, generally, am-- am on the side of transparency with the caveat do nothing that jeopardizes national security--

JOHN DICKERSON: Okay.

REPRESENTATIVE TREY GOWDY: --or impacts our relationship with our allies. I think the President has taken a reasonable approach which is given Chris Wray and Dan Coats a chance to come in and advocate for why it should not be released. But I've seen all of it John. And with the exception of one document I don't think anybody's mind is going to be changed when they read this stuff.

JOHN DICKERSON: All right. Trey Gowdy, thanks so much for being with us.

And we'll be back in one minute--

REPRESENTATIVE TREY GOWDY: Yes, Sir.

JOHN DICKERSON: --with a lot more FACE THE NATION.

(ANNOUNCEMENTS)

JOHN DICKERSON: We're back with the first elected official to hear Christine Blasey Ford's accusations, California Democrat Anna Eshoo. Congresswoman Eshoo joins us from Mountain View, California. Congresswoman, good morning. And I want to start, you talked--

REPRESENTATIVE ANNA ESHOO (D-California/@RepAnnaEshoo): Good morning to you, John.

JOHN DICKERSON: --you talked to Doctor Ford. What did she tell you that would convince her doubters?

REPRESENTATIVE ANNA ESHOO: Well, Doctor Ford called my district office and we met for quite a long while, for about an hour and a half and she told me her story. She-- my impression of her was that she was intelligent, she spoke softly. It was wrenching for her, I think, to tell the story because there's a reexperience when the story is told. She went into many details, and at the end of our conversation, I told her that I believed her and that it was important that she tell me if what she wished me to do with the information, if, in fact, she chose another path, and she did. She said she would-- she wanted me to take it to, you know, a diff-- down a different pathway. And, of course, with anonymity and privacy, that's paramount in sexual abuse allegations or cases, because the individuals are terrified. This is one of the highest unreported crimes in our country. So she understood the risks and the consequences. And it was a week ago, today, that she came out publicly because the story was-- part of it was out and I think that it took extraordinary courage for her to do that--

JOHN DICKERSON: We--

REPRESENTATIVE ANNA ESHOO: --because, again, she understood the risks and consequences, not only for herself, but her family.

JOHN DICKERSON: Congresswoman, we've-- last night heard from another person who Ford said was at the party, Leland Kaiser. She says she has no recollection of being at the party. That means everyone else, other than Doctor Ford, has said they either don't remember or deny that it happened.

REPRESENTATIVE ANNA ESHOO: Well, there are different remembrances to sexual abuse victims. And there was a third party in the room, my constituent alleges that, and, yet, that person, Mark Judge, is not being subpoenaed by the Senate Judiciary Committee and I think that-- that his testimony and questioning should be part of this as well.

JOHN DICKERSON: He, of course, says it's-- it's not true. Let me ask you this question. You asked a series of questions of Doctor Ford when she came in to talk to you. What kind-- what did you want to know?

REPRESENTATIVE ANNA ESHOO: Well, as she told her story, I asked several questions, and I-- I don't want to go into the details of it because I promised her that privacy. That privacy is-- is paramount. But this is an intelligent woman. This is not a woman that is confused, mixed up. This is something that she has carried with her, just as so many victims do. So I think that as a witness she will speak clearly, share her story, and I think that the American people need to listen. There's been a lot of talking. We have to do a-- a listening both to Judge Kavanaugh and to my-- my constituent.

JOHN DICKERSON: We have-- listen, we need--

REPRESENTATIVE ANNA ESHOO: I think that there's something else in this, too.

JOHN DICKERSON: Mm-Hm. Go ahead.

REPRESENTATIVE ANNA ESHOO: Mm-Hm.

JOHN DICKERSON: Go ahead.

REPRESENTATIVE ANNA ESHOO: Women share their secrets with each other. And women across the country are more than sensitive about this. So my constituent should be welcomed and given the respect that she deserves.

JOHN DICKERSON: In-- in the--

REPRESENTATIVE ANNA ESHOO: And-- and I-- and I hope that that will be the case.

JOHN DICKERSON: We just--

REPRESENTATIVE ANNA ESHOO: And that her courage is appreciated as well.

JOHN DICKERSON: We have less than twenty seconds left. Just very quickly often in asking questions of a witness like this, it can sound like you're trying to besmirch them or doubting that this happens to women at all. In the last fifteen seconds, what are your thoughts about that?

REPRESENTATIVE ANNA ESHOO: Well, if this is a-- this is a crime, attempted rape is a crime. And, yet, the doubt when women come forward. That's why so many--

JOHN DICKERSON: Okay.

REPRESENTATIVE ANNA ESHOO: --do not come forward because they don't think that they will be believed--

JOHN DICKERSON: All right. Congresswoman--

REPRESENTATIVE ANNA ESHOO: They believe that it will hurt their-- their career or their job opportunities.

JOHN DICKERSON: All right. Unfortunately, we've run out of time. Thank you so much for being with us, Congresswoman.

And we'll be back in a moment.

(ANNOUNCEMENTS)

JOHN DICKERSON: Ahead of the United Nations General Assembly where world leaders gather in New York City, I traveled to London to talk with British Prime Minister Theresa May. One of the topics we discussed was the divide between the U.S. and the rest of the world on President Trump quitting the Iran nuclear agreement.

(Begin VT)

JOHN DICKERSON: Has Iran been holding up its end of the bargain of the 2015 deal?

THERESA MAY (British Prime Minister/@theresa_may): Well, this is the-- the question of that deal, of course, is an area where I do have a difference of opinion with-- with President Trump, because we believe the JCPOA should stay in place and others involved in putting that deal together believe that it should stay in place. We do agree with the United States that there are other aspects of Iran's behavior that we need to be dealing with, too. So, looking at the issue of ballistic missiles, looking at the way in which Iran is acting in the region and to destabilize the region. We need to address those issues, too, but we also want to ensure that we have a nuclear deal in place that prevents them from-- of getting a nuclear weapon.

JOHN DICKERSON: But by your assessment, Iran is keeping up its end of the bargain?

THERESA MAY: We-- from what we see we believe that it is doing that.

(End VT)

JOHN DICKERSON: Be sure to tune in tomorrow to CBS THIS MORNING for the rest of my interview with the British prime minister.

(ANNOUNCEMENTS)

JOHN DICKERSON: And we'll be right back with a lot more FACE THE NATION. Stay with us.

(ANNOUNCEMENTS)

JOHN DICKERSON: Welcome back to FACE THE NATION. There are just over six weeks until the midterm elections this November. And for a look at the state of play and what voters are saying we'd like to welcome a pair of familiar faces to the broadcast. Anthony Salvanto is the CBS News director of elections and surveys and he has brand new Battleground Tracker polling results for us this morning. And Ed O'Keefe is a political correspondent for CBS News. Ed spent some time talking to voters in Las Vegas this week. Gentlemen, welcome.

ANTHONY SALVANTO (CBS News Elections and Surveys Director/@SalvantoCBS): Good to see you.

ED O'KEEFE (CBS News Political Correspondent/@edokeefe): Good to see you.

ANTHONY SALVANTO: Anthony, I'll start with you. And let's start with the House. Everybody wants to know are Democrats are going to take control of the House? What are the numbers set?

ANTHONY SALVANTO: Well, they're in position to as of now. So, we've got our estimate that would have them at two hundred and twenty-four seats if the election were held today. There is a margin of error on that though, and it's twelve seats, or about five percent of the whole House. And there are scenarios, plausible scenarios under which the Republicans get to see some Democratic gains but hang on, where the Republicans hang on. One of the things that strikes me underneath those numbers in these Battleground districts, house districts that we surveyed is that a remarkable seventy-five percent of people say that the economy is good, nationally, that the economy is good in their area but they're not voting for the Republicans, they're not voting for the party in power because they don't like the way the country is going. They don't like the direction of the country. And that's split, that difference, usually say, well, you know, if the economy is good the party in power wins. That split is remarkable. And it, it really sort of underpins why the Republicans aren't in stronger position right now?

JOHN DICKERSON: Did you find that sentiment in your group?

ED O'KEEFE: We did. We talked to two Republicans and two Democrats. And three of those four, essentially, say, yeah, the economy is in great shape. But can't necessarily support the Republican candidate, don't necessarily like the direction President Trump is taking us. You've got two competitive House races in the Vegas area, big Senate race and the governor's race, politics is top of mind. And, you know, one guy told us he's-- he's seen twenty bucks more. Thanks to the tax cut; others say, you know, I have got a better job than I did two years ago. So, of course, the economy is doing great. But they have concerns about the way the President is running the country or the fact that maybe Republicans aren't doing more to sort of stand counter to the President, therefore, they're open for-- for-- for change.

JOHN DICKERSON: I want to get to the President and his role in this in a second. Anthony, is there other-- take us inside those numbers on the House or who are the groups we should be paying attention to and what's moving them?

ANTHONY SALVANTO: Well, besides those the economy is not enough voters, there's another one that everybody should watch and that's the potential new voters coming into this. The Democrats' chances hinge on these folks to about seventeen percent of everybody who tells us they're going to show up. Well, look, in midterms, less than half of people usually show up. So the Democrats need to change that equation. These folks have not voted in 2010, they didn't vote in 2014, the last two midterms. And they are favoring the Democrats by fifteen points right now in the poll. Without them, the Democrats, frankly, do not win the House if they don't show up because they're just barely even among everybody else, those habitual voters.

JOHN DICKERSON: Ed, were the people you talked to ready to go out and vote or they're still even weighing whether they will even get to the--

ED O'KEEFE: The-- well, they are definitely voting. What-- what I thought was interesting, and I think we see this in all sorts of races across the country is they don't necessarily like their options. You have a Republican incumbent, Dean Heller, running against a Democratic Congresswoman Jacky Rosen in Nevada. Everyone had heard of them. Nobody was really jazzed about either of them. And so I think that may be an outlier in some cases across the country where you've seen these races with new candidates, new faces that are really drawing a lot of support, lot of small dollar donations. Nevada isn't necessarily a place seeing that at least in its Senate race.

JOHN DICKERSON: And let me-- let's talk quickly about the President. So is he motivating Democrats to turn out who don't like him, or is-- does he have a connection with Republican voters that that connection is sometimes not there for a President and that first midterm election after they've been elected?

ANTHONY SALVANTO: It's both. And they offset. One of the things that brings Democrats' enthusiasm up to match Republicans, and there really isn't an enthusiasm gap now, is this angry-- this potentially angry Democrat who says that if the Republicans hang on to the House, they will feel angry. And those folks are much more motivated to turn out and vote this year than people who say they'd just be disappointed. So that's-- that's a, clearly-- it's clearly a motivating factor, at least for them.

JOHN DICKERSON: Ed, I want to ask you, you've talked to the focus group about the Kavanaugh nominee--

ED O'KEEFE: Yeah.

JOHN DICKERSON: --nomination, let's take a look what you heard.

(Begin VT)

CONNIE: It's fair game if it happened and I think it should be investigated. I have mixed feelings about that because I felt, "Okay, none of us are the person that we were in high school." But on the other hand, it was very important to my husband and myself when we raised our child that-- to our son, to tell him that "no means no" and you respect women, you don't abuse women. You don't-- when a woman says no, they don't. So I think it says a lot about their character.

ED O'KEEFE: Jim, how about you?

JIM: So I think that the issue with Brett Kavanaugh is that as a judge and as a justice, he's going to be ruling on sexual assault cases. So we need to know about this because maybe he secretly doesn't think that sexual assault is a problem and that might affect his rulings. Or maybe he'll be really hard on sexual assault defendants and that will over-compensate and that will skew his rulings. So either way, this could impair his fairness as a judge. And I think we need to know about that.

ED O'KEEFE: Lisa.

LISA: I think the operative word there is fair. You know, Mister Kavanaugh has been investigated ever-- you know, ever since he was with the Bush administration. When you're appointed as a judge, you're investigated by the FBI, they go talk to your high school friends, everybody, you know, knee-deep and the fact that this never came out in any of these prior situations and now it comes out thirty years later in circumstances that seem a little bit off-kilter, suspect me.

ED O'KEEFE: James, how about you?

JAMES: I think she definitely needs to be heard out. And I think it's something that-- that everybody needs to hear both sides of the story.

ED O'KEEFE: Doctor Ford has-- has suggested that the FBI should have to formally investigate this. The Senate-- members of the Senate Judiciary Committee say "No. We'll-- we'll handle this ourselves. We are a committee that can look at somebody's background and determine this." Does it matter to you?

CONNIE: Yes. The FBI should be involved. One, they are more competent at investigations. They have more tools available to them to do it. And one point that-- that Jim brought up that I really hadn't think-- thought about it, but he's right--it's we need to know how that's going to affect them, is it going to prejudice him one way or the other when he's making (INDISTINCT) in the future? The point is as to why it wasn't brought up in the past. That's not necessarily something women want to talk about. It's not easy to talk about. And if you think back and I-- you're probably too young to remember, but I was around when the Anita Hill issue came up.

ED O'KEEFE: Mm-Hm.

CONNIE: And she was not treated well or nicely or any of that. So I think somebody now would have second thoughts about actually coming forward and saying anything.

LISA: He has been investigated by the FBI previously and I don't know that bringing them in now, you know, for an FBI investigation makes a lot of sense. I think it's too late for the FBI, frankly.

JAMES: You know, these allegations coming up now versus all these other times he's been investigated and have background checks, I mean, I think you can't ignore the-- the momentum of the MeToo movement right now.

LISA: Hmm.

JAMES: And--and that that might have played a factor in-- in sort of giving her--

CONNIE: The support that she needs.

JAMES: Right.

(End VT)

JOHN DICKERSON: Four articulate voices. What are your numbers showing, Ed?

ED O'KEEFE: Hard partisan splits on whether or not he ought to be confirmed just Republicans in favor, Democrats opposed. But also on whether there should be an FBI investigation, also hard partisan splits, just a bare majority--fifty-three percent--saying that there ought to be, very high numbers on too soon to say as well. People were just, sort of, tuning in to this now and saying, "Let's wait and see what happens this week."

JOHN DICKERSON: We'll be tuning in this week. Anthony, Ed, thanks so much.

ANTHONY SALVANTO: Thanks, John.

JOHN DICKERSON: And we'll be right back.

(ANNOUNCEMENTS)

JOHN DICKERSON: And it's time now for our political panel. Amy Walter is national editor of The Cook Political Report and the host of WNYC's The Takeaway. Reihan Salam is the executive editor of The National Review and a contributing editor at The Atlantic. He is also the author of a new book, "Melting Pot or Civil War?" Seung Min Kim is with The Washington Post and has had a very busy week chasing the twists and turns of the Kavanaugh story, which are still twisting and turning. And Dan Balz is the chief correspondent at The Washington Post. Welcome to all of you. Seung Min, I want to start with you. The twisting and turning continues. We heard from another person who was allegedly at this party last night. Give us the latest on, kind of, where things are with this hearing and what's going to happen?

SEUNG MIN KIM (The Washington Post/@seungminkim): So, it is somewhat confirmed that there will be a hearing, let's make it clear. There seemed to be some optimism from our sources last night who've been involved in these hearing negotiations that they might be tentatively, key word tentatively, moving towards a Thursday hearing. But there are still differences between Doctor Ford's team, legal team, and Senate Republicans who will be running the committee in terms of how they want the hearing to proceed. Obviously, they have been haggling over the date. There's also a question of, the-- do you have-- not senators question, but another attorney's question, Doctor Ford and Judge Kavanaugh. The-- Doctor Ford and her team have requested that senators do the questioning. But Grassley-- Grassley, the chairman of the Judiciary Committee, said he wants to reserve the option of having some female staff attorneys, key word female--

JOHN DICKERSON: Yeah.

SEUNG MIN KIM: --do the questioning there. There also have been some disagreements about whether you can subpoena Mark Judge, who is the friend, who was alleged to have been there when this incident happened-- alleged incident happened. So still a lot of differences between the two parties, but we'll ,hopefully, know more later today.

JOHN DICKERSON: And, Amy, obviously, the point there about the men doing the questioning--

AMY WALTER (Cook Political Report/@amyewalter): That's right.

JOHN DICKERSON: --immediately takes us to, this is fraught because of the subjects and the issues but it's, obviously, also highly-charged politically.

AMY WALTER: Absolutely. The-- the thought of there are eleven men on the Republican side, questioning a female about this issue is-- is definitely fraught. The other issue I-- that I saw this in the USA TODAY poll that came out right before the weekend, we're asking voters, too, about their opinions about, sort of, who comes out winners and losers in this. Not surprisingly, everybody comes out looking not particularly good, but plurality saying they think that these hearings ultimately are going to hurt Republicans and their chances to hold the Senate that it's going to hurt Donald Trump. But that by twenty points, it's going to also hurt the MeToo movement. And I think that it's just fundamentally the belief, and I think this is where we are in this country, too. It's just one big mess. Nobody is going to come out--this idea that somebody is going to be a winner and someone is a loser from this, we still can't talk about the issue of sexual assault and sexual harassment. It's still so fraught and now put it in with our polarized political times it's a mess.

JOHN DICKERSON: Well, and it's not just, Reihan, the question of winners and losers, it's a question of: can we get to the truth in this venue given the time that's past and the-- and the facts of the case. Ben Wittes put it this way in The Atlantic about Kavanaugh, "He needs to prove a negative about events long ago with sufficient persuasiveness that a reasonable person will regard his service as untainted by the allegations against him, and he needs to do so using only arguments that themselves don't taint him." Just give me a sense of the stakes of this thing.

REIHAN SALAM (National Review/@reihan/Melting Pot or Civil War): What-- and it also may well be impossible for this reason. Remember before these allegations, the extent of partisan enmity was so deep and wide there were people who believed just Brett Kavanaugh, he invokes a certain type to people, right? There are many people on the left who see his face and they think, "This just represents this brand of republicanism I find repellant." Similarly, on the other side of the street, you have people who are deeply suspicious of those seeking to undermine Kavanaugh. Kavanaugh is someone who has been in conservative legal circles for, literally, decades. He has been a mentor to many, many people. Whereas if you look at his accuser, Christine Blasey Ford, she is someone who represents to many people experience that they themselves have had, right? So this is so deep and it goes to the fact that Democrats and Republicans are now saying, "I don't want my child marrying a member of the other political party." You have to understand this in the context of that serious political partisan animosity.

JOHN DICKERSON: Right. And then, Dan, we have had in-- during the MeToo movement a lot of people have learned about why people do or don't come forward. The nature of what these kinds of events. And-- and everybody has said we've tried-- we've-- as Nikki Haley said, "We should listen to and be grateful for people who come forward." Into that conversation the President tweeted, "I have no doubt that if the attack on Doctor Ford was as bad as she says, charges would have been immediately filed with local law enforcement authorities by either her or her loving parents." That seems quite discordant with what we've spent the last year or more, learning about the nature of these kinds of events.

DAN BALZ (The Washington Post/@danbalz): It-- it's completely discordant, John. And it's also completely against what the President's advisers had been advising him and for a number of days he seemed to be restrained and careful in the way he was approaching this and then he kind of fell off the wagon. But it-- it is a reminder that this is a partisan moment. So the MeToo movement has clashed into the polarized American electorate over something fundamental, which is an appointment to the Supreme Court. So when you wrap all of that into what this hearing could be like, as Amy said, there's not going to be winners and losers. People-- many people have already made up their mind about who's telling the truth in this case. So the difficulty of conducting a fair hearing in which people, in one way or another, have their minds changed seems very remote.

JOHN DICKERSON: And, Seung Min, are we going to get into a situation where-- I mean, how broad do you think the questioning will be? Not just about the facts of this one particular night, how broad do you think we might get on these questions?

SEUNG MIN KIM: Well, we've talked a lot about just the political risk for Republicans and their questioning and the hearing if it does happen. But I have talked to a lot of Democratic sources who are preparing their own questions for this hearing in terms of the uncomfortable questions that they will ask Judge Kavanaugh. Aides tell me that they are preparing questions on his drinking, on this, you know, prep academy world of the 1908s, Democratic aides are reading Mark Judge's book where he talks about a lot of this drinking and a drink-- and that-- and related behavior. So it will be a difficult hearing, sources told us at the Washington Post that Judge Kavanaugh is very well aware of the types of questions that he will face in-- in such a hearing and has been preparing for those questions. But, clearly, it will be a difficult situation around for everyone.

JOHN DICKERSON: And, Reihan, Mitch McConnell, Senate leader, said-- said basically Kavanaugh's going to make it through. So how does he tell-- he said don't worry when this is all said and done he's go to make it through, how is he going to make it through and still have Chuck Grassley say this is going to be a fair and open enquiry into the facts of the case.

REIHAN SALAM: Well, the senator has to say that because he is absolutely convinced that Brett Kavanaugh is telling the truth. Were he to say otherwise it would be to suggest that Kavanaugh is not being entirely forthcoming. So it would-- I find it hard to imagine him saying otherwise, as that would throw into question the fact that they've had so much confidence in him going all along.

JOHN DICKERSON: Dan, what do you think the scenarios are for this as it goes forward? We've talked how fraught it's going to be. But what-- if everybody has made up their mind it looked like this nomination was on its way to a confirmation. So what-- what-- what do we think might plausibly happen?

DAN BALZ: Well, I think it's impossible to know at this point how a handful of senators ultimately will make the judgment. I mean this-- this is going to play out in front of the whole country but in-- in many ways it's a focus on a handful of senators who will decide Judge Kavanaugh's fate in the end. And I think those senators, some Democrats, some Republicans, will be watching this closely, trying to gauge public opinion in their states and trying to understand better what are the risks for themselves if they go one way or the other. So they're going to be making a judgment on the credibility of both of these people when they testify but they're also going to be making a political judgment about their own futures.

AMY WALTER: Right. And-- and--

JOHN DICKERSON: That's right.

AMY WALTER: Oh, and that's what it looked like in 1991 as well, right? I don't think as that was happening people were able to digest the impact that this hearing was having and then, of course, one year later you have the rise of all these women candidates and the name of the 1992 election was the Year of the Woman. We already have the Year of the Woman this year. But it feels a little bit like that game Pachinko where you watch this ball and you can't quite figure out which way it's going to go, right, and you're all prepared for it to go this way and then it springs over that way. I think anybody trying to be able to get-- understand how people are processing this in live time is going to be very difficult. And the repercussions are going to-- going to continue long beyond these hearings.

JOHN DICKERSON: Right. It seems to me the-- the-- one of the repercussions is that inquiry in the service of trying to figure out the facts can be turned very quickly--

AMY WALTER: Yes.

JOHN DICKERSON: --into making it look like you don't believe this happens. Or that you misunderstand the experience of women and the powerlessness they felt in these kinds of situations, which empowers an entire voting bloc.

AMY WALTER: Right. And, as Seung Min pointed out, there are also risks for Democrats looking like they are really besmirching the reputation of this person.

JOHN DICKERSON: Exactly. All right. We're going to pause there. We will be back with more from our panel. Stay with us.

(ANNOUNCEMENTS)

JOHN DICKERSON: And we're back with more from our panel. Dan, I want to start with you on-- you were out in Colorado talking to voters. What did you hear?

DAN BALZ: Well, couple of things, John. One on this issue of Judge Kavanaugh and Doctor Ford (a) very polarized reactions. If you talk to Democrats or people who are thinking of voting Democratic, they believe Doctor Ford. They are convinced that she is absolutely right and they think he should not be confirmed. If you talk to people who are supportive of President Trump, you get the completely opposite view that this is-- this is an unfair allegation, they don't believe her, they have questions about the timing of it, all of that. Having said that I think there's another element of that, and that is I think that the people who are opposed to Judge Kavanaugh or inclined to vote Democratic seem to feel more passionate about this. And that depending on how these hearings go that could further energize them, these are people who are already energized to be active in this campaign. Many in ways that they had never been active before in terms of doing phone banks or canvassing or things like that. This is adding one more, you know, element to their energy.

JOHN DICKERSON: Seung Min, let me-- in all of your reporting, you're trying to figure out just when the hearings are going to be held--

SEUNG MIN KIM: Yes.

JOHN DICKERSON: --who's going to do doing the questioning and all of--

SEUNG MIN KIM: Sure.

JOHN DICKERSON: --and all of that. People often when they see situation like this, they say, leave the politics out of it, this is about getting to the truth. But in your conversations, give me a sense of how much the politics is a part of what people are thinking then is in their head as they're trying to simply hold a hearing to try to get to the bottom of a typical-- difficult question.

SEUNG MIN KIM: Well, it's just-- you cannot divorce the politics from all this and I think what's been interesting to watch, I mean, we talk about how energized Democrats are, how good of prospects that have in November, we-- we always caveat that with the fact that the Senate has a very different map than the House does in the broader national-- the broader national map. And I thought what Senator Claire McCaskill said this week in her announcement that she will oppose Judge Kavanaugh to be very interesting, and this is in the heat of reporting on these allegations. Clearly, she's a female senator. These are very important issues to her. She is a former federal prosecutor. She said, you know, obviously, the allegations do give me concern but that is not why I am voting against Judge Kavanaugh. She actually cited campaign finance as a reason why she was opposing him; and some of his past writings and concerns on campaign finance. So she is in a very difficult reelection race. She has to win over independents and Trump voters. So you just-- reading that statement you just saw how she was just really trying to balance that line. But at the same time you have a lot of Democrats saying to their base and to their voters if you are angry about what is happening in the Senate right now know that it's because Republicans are in charge. So come out and vote. So it's just-- again, cannot separate the politics from all this.

JOHN DICKERSON: Reihan, we've got six weeks, basically, before the voting starts. In the last election people had a lot of theories about the way things work. Many of them were not correct. What is your view of the way things stand now in this election? What's-- what strikes you, what are you watching?

REIHAN SALAM: I believe that you have a universe of voters. You don't have a vast universe of swing voters but you have a small universe of them. You have the so-called Romney-Clinton voters, voters who switched from red to blue the last time around. You know, and that's roughly three percent of the electorate. You have so-called Obama-Trump voters, that's about five percent of the electorate. And it does seem as though Democrats have done a pretty good job of consolidating the former group, the Romney-Clinton voters. If you look at the Obama-Trump voters, that's a dicier proposition, particularly, if you are looking at the Rust Belt, if you're looking at the Great Lakes, these are region where it seems as though some voters who might have been reluctant to back other Republicans who are willing to give Donald Trump a shot, it's not entirely clear that he has galvanized those voters, it is not entirely clear they are as energized as they had been in 2016. And that is really, really tough, because the Republican Party is a party in flux. It's not obvious that the Republican Party of Paul Ryan, who is, of course, now heading for the exits, is a party that really speaks to those voters and energizes them. It's also not entirely clear that Donald Trump's focus on cultural issues that are polarizing are necessarily motivating for that-- that group of voters, that's very, very crucial to the party's future.

JOHN DICKERSON: And will be President Trump staying on those crime immigration topics?

AMY WALTER: He is going to keep talking about those things until they prove to not work. He has one speed and that's the speed he's always been on since the day he came down the escalator, the day he was sworn in as President and today. He believes that that ultimately is important. If there's one thing that really we got wrong in terms of all the theories about 2016, it was that the enthusiasm, clearly, was not on the side of Hillary Clinton, right? And we heard these anecdotal stories about driving across rural America and you'd see barns painted with Trump signs, nobody saw Hillary Clinton signs. And we-- you sort of dismiss that as well, you know, lawn signs don't vote.

JOHN DICKERSON: Right.

AMY WALTER: But it was-- what was clear was that this energy and enthusiasm for Trump was there in places that a lot of us don't live, right?

JOHN DICKERSON: Right.

AMY WALTER: What's clear this year is that energy and enthusiasm is there for Democrats.

JOHN DICKERSON: All right. Last word. Thanks, Amy. Thanks to all of you. And we'll be right back.

(ANNOUNCEMENTS)

JOHN DICKERSON: That's it for us. Thanks for watching. For FACE THE NATION, I am John Dickerson. I'll be here next week. But I'll also see you tomorrow and every morning this week on CBS THIS MORNING.